Is it possible to have a strong or sizable network (and all the benefits that come from having one) without having a community?
Community, or the sense of community is absolutely vital to your efforts to build relationships and establish your authority on your topic. I covered this in LinkedIn Currency: Calculating The Value of Your Network, when I discussed what is common knowledge…people buy from those they know, like and trust.
What better way to help people know, like and trust you than to create a community of engaged members. The members of your community will be most engaged when they know that their challenges and needs are important to you, like the sense of belonging that they feel as part of your community and finally feel that they can trust that their needs will be met by being a member of your community.
While it would seem like these ideas should be very common sense and widely used, many businesses miss the mark by omitting the sense of community when building their network.
Here are three key elements you must include when building a community that will be engaged and wants and needs what you have to offer.
LinkedIn Currency: The 3 Key Elements of Community
It is essential if you want people to be able to get to know you, like you and trust you, that you share who you really are with them.
Allow people to see the real you.
This doesn’t mean over sharing. There is absolutely a line that crosses into the realm of oversharing and this line is different depending on the platform you are on.
For example, you can share much more personal information on Facebook.
LinkedIn on the other hand is strictly a professional network, and you are best to keep your posts business related or at least business appropriate on this platform.
So how do you allow people to see the real you when posting business related materials on LinkedIn?
Use your own voice. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your posts and content. It is important though that your “voice” is consistent over all your platforms and content.
This is what will attract others with similar goals or beliefs as you.
Remember that people want to know your perspective. So share it with them. Even when posting links to other people’s content be sure to include your own perspective on that piece of content, sharing why your community should read it.
A community is not possible without conversation.
Don’t limit your social media strategy to simply blasting posts at your community – this is broadcasting…not community building.
While you may be used to speaking AT your audience with your content and sales materials, this does nothing to support or build your community. Real relationships require give and take from both sides and conversations and engagement require two-way communication.
This means having processes and tools that facilitate your ability to listen and respond to your community members where they are communicating with you.
The sign of a vibrant community is conversation and engagement. Keep it strong by placing as much importance on the conversation as they do.
Want to grow the conversation in your community? Give them a reason to engage with you. Provide them with content that they need and will find valuable.
But don’t get so caught up listening and responding that you don’t actually “hear” what they are sharing with you. You will often find vital information contained within their communication with you.
This information can include whether or not the content/services/products you are providing are meeting their needs or challenges and additionally what may be missing from your service or product offerings.
Not sure what to write your next blog post or eBook on? Check the recent engagement and conversations with your community for ideas and suggestions.
Make sure that you putting equal emphasis on where you are focusing your communication efforts, as you will waste your time and resources by trying to interact with them in places that they are not active.
There are a number of places that your community can communicate with you on LinkedIn. This could be on your status updates, LinkedIn Publisher posts, group posts, company page or in a private LinkedIn message.
Their interaction can take the form of likes, shares, comments and messages. If someone takes the time to comment (good or bad), it is incredibly important that you reply in a reasonable amount of time.
You should not only interact with your LinkedIn community on LinkedIn but also on the other social media platforms they are using. While this will vary depending on the industry and other factors, Twitter is a popular platform for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Try creating Twitter lists filled with your LinkedIn community to make it easier to listen and respond to them when they communicate with you.
Ensure that in every interaction with your community that you provide them with some sort of value.
Always ask yourself, “What’s’ in it for them”
At the end of the day, people all think WIIFM (what’s in it for me) when they are looking at your content.
Think about this from their perspective. If there is no clear benefit for them, then they will most likely not waste their time as there is so much competing for their time and attention.
If you are unsure on whether they will find the value you are hoping, then review previous community conversations or ask them directly.
Depending on the goal, industry and audience, some great ways to provide your community with value is to create content such as:
- blog posts
An additional benefit of creating great content is that you establish yourself as an authority on your topic and stay top of mind with your community. This further positions you as “the option” in their mind when they need someone who offers the products/services that you provide.
Whatever you do, do not bombard your community with your sales and marketing materials. This is the quickest way to destroy the relationship that you are working to build.
If you have proved true value and built a solid relationship (they know, like and trust you), then when they need the product/services that you offer, they will reach out and contact you.
Community: The 3 Cs of LinkedIn Currency
As I explained in my earlier article, LinkedIn Currency: Calculating The Value of Your Network, understanding and implementing the 3 C’s of LinkedIn Currency is crucial to your success in building a strong and valuable network and understanding the actual value of that network in measurable and unmeasurable ways.
I have started with Community, as it is the foundation on which to build your LinkedIn Currency. In my next article I will expand on the concept of Collaboration, which is intrinsically linked to your ability to successfully create a strong sense of community and to expand and share the message of your community.
Would you like to significantly impact the size of your expanded LinkedIn Network? Send me a PERSONALIZED connection request mentioning this article (it is very unlikely I will accept your request if it is not personalized!). By doing this you will greatly expand your 2nd and 3rd degree networks.